Dunwich Dynamo is a night ride to be remembered

In a new series of guest bloggers for the London Cycling Campaign, Cherry Fitzsimmons tells us about her experience of the infamous Dunwich Dynamo, a turn-up-and-go challenging free-entry overnight 120 mile bicycle road ride from London Fields in Hackney to the lovely, lonely Suffolk beach at Dunwich.

This year's Dynamo, DunRun, DD number 21, DDXXI, will be on the weekend of 20-21 July 2013 where there will be almost a full moon to light the way.

There are nights in your life which you remember for being some of the best of your life, those nights which feel like a beautiful dream, hazy and distant and so great in your memory that they don’t seem like they were ever real; you know for sure they could never be recreated. Of being 17 and discovering music and boys and dancing like it’s your last night on earth; or the last night of a summer spent traveling – staying up all night and into the afternoon with precious friends, knowing you will never all be together again. Cycling the Dunwich Dynamo was one of those nights.

The Dunwich Dynamo, an over night bike ride, celebrating it’s 20th year, is a semi-organised event, usually held on the Saturday in July closest to the full moon. Cyclists meet at London Fields, Hackney and cycle approximately 120 miles to Dunwich on the Suffolk Coast.

It felt like a right of passage, my 4th summer in London and it was only now I was bold enough to do the Dunwich Dynamo. Leaving the streets of Hackney we knew too well, we started off, fairly cautious, not wanting to burn out too early, following the red back lights of other cyclists through the A roads of outer London and the rowdiness of Saturday night in Essex suburbia. We were pacing ourselves, and before we realised we were 30 miles down and in the countryside proper. We came to a stop at a country pub, hundreds of cyclists taking the opportunity for what seemed like the first natural stop, there was a feeling of quiet excitement.

We peddled through the night, each in our own rhythms, hundreds of people in a formation.  Not being able to see anything around you, but the flicker of red rear bike lights guiding your way caused other sense to heighten, increasing awareness of your own and other people’s movements, the sense of body awareness and balance; I had a real sense of where Eve was even though I couldn’t see her.  I’d like to describe this feeling as Synesthesia, it was like nothing I’d experienced before.

We didn’t stop at the village hall set up to feed bleary eyed cyclists, nor did we stop at the Suffolk sausage vans that seemed to appear in abundance come day break, we just kept on keeping on, biting into giant chunks of rocky road as though it was apples. Eve and I just cycled together, we were in separate worlds, but at times it felt like we were riding a tandem.

I don’t remember feeling tired, I do remember my shoulders aching and feeling restless from my saddle, the rolling Suffolk Hills, so still and distant. These places in between, dawn breaking, sun rising, being unsure of the right turn but then that feeling you get when you see the name of your destination written on a sign post for a first time, collective spirit. 10 hours after we’d left our Hackney, our home, we arrived at the beach, we swam in the sea, drunk cider and slept on the beach.

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